David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Dan J. Stein & J. Ludick (eds.), Neural Networks and Psychopathology. Cambridge University Press 248--273 (1998)
According to Aristotle, "to be learning something is the greatest of pleasures not only to the philosopher but also to the rest of mankind," (Poetics 1448b). But even as he affirms the unbounded human capacity for integrating new experience with existing knowledge, he alludes to a significant exception: "The sight of certain things gives us pain, but we enjoy looking at the most exact images of them, whether the forms of animals which we greatly despise or of corpses." Our capacity for learning is happily engaged in viewing representations of painful objects, but not, it seems, in viewing the objects themselves. When an experience is intensely painful, what then is a rational animal to do? We can neither disable our learning process, nor erase its traces. In the face of intense pain, horror, or terror, learning and remembrance cause no pleasure but rather persistent psychological pain and disruption. The memorious mind reverberates with trauma
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